Russell Dumas’s contribution to the field of engineering was made largely in Western Australia, where he was engineering head of the Department of Public Works from 1941 to 1953. He moved to WA in 1925, where he was involved with the development of dams necessary to meet Perth's demand for water. At the time of its construction, the 45-metre high earthen wall designed by Dumas at the Stirling dam was the highest in Australia.
Of major significance was Dumas’s identification of the site and subsequent development of the Ord River Scheme, which was designed to increase the productivity of the northwest of WA through irrigation. He was considered to be one of WA's most powerful public servants and significant players in the State's approach to development, and was responsible for the establishment at the southern port of Kwinana of the £40m oil refinery, BHP's £4m steel rolling mill, and Portland Cement's £2.2m works.
For his work Dumas was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1950, was knighted in 1959, and in 1964 was elevated to Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE).